Despite the imperfections of customer service in the more touristy areas, Croatia is ideal country for holiday cruising. Plenty of marines and anchorages, several national parks and many charters to choose from – it all makes this country a great place for sailors, especially for those from middle and eastern Europe. Both nature and tourism are now endangered by government’s plan to start drilling for oil and gas in the Adriatic sea.
National parks loved by sailors
National parks Kornati and Mijlet are two of the most beautiful places in Croatia. The untouched nature is protected by rangers, who also monitor the impact sailing has on the environment. The rules and practices that have been established for years seem insignificant compared to the intent to drill in close proximity of these parks. The government has only granted a permission to do drilling research, however such research is very costly and oil companies rarely give up drilling after investing so much. Out of ten companies that got the license, two have already started seismic research. Data evaluation can take up to two years, only then the location for drilling will be specified.
The public interest
People who live in coastal regions of Croatia rely on the sea for their livelihood. Of course, they are against the drilling. Tourism only makes 15% of the GDP, therefore profit from the oil drilling is a main argument for the research. This argument seems absurd, considering reduced prices of oil on the market. Supporters of oil drilling are mainly from central Croatia, where sea contamination doesn’t have the same impact on them. The initiative “S.O.S. Adriatic” is a combined effort of several non-profit organisations including Greenpeace. Activists demanded moratorium on drilling in the Adriatic sea, they organised several protests on drilling locations and in front of OMV headquarters in Vienna, Austria. S.O.S. Adriatic also objected violation of EU directive on mining, since the company entrusted with environmental supervision was engaged in lobbying for drilling.
No drilling for now
OMV and Marathon Oil have decided to stop their activities in Adriatic sea, due to the low market price of oil and uncertain return of the investment. Croatian media originally claimed the reason behind it were controversial borders with Montenegro. This would be the considerable reason only for location near Dubrovnik, where one licence has been granted by the government. Two previously mentioned companies were the only ones that were actively pursuing the drilling in Adriatic sea. Coalition S.O.S. Adriatic continues to require the moratorium on drilling in the sea floor and termination of government agency for oil and gas drilling. The departure of two big oil companies from Croatia is a vivid signal for other investors. There will be no oil rigs in Adriatic sea, at least until market price of oil and gas reaches the top again.